Sad clowns How the pandemic shattered the world of children’s entertainment

Sad clowns and desperate DJs: How the pandemic shattered the world of children’s entertainment

clown make-up has firmly been kept locked in the cupboard over the past few months.

When you think of a more traditional type of children’s entertainer you’d probably think of a party clown doing tricks, telling jokes, and just being a bit silly.

Alan Paget, aka Mr T.Ricks the clown (Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

For Alan Paget, 55, more commonly known to the little ones as Mr T.Ricks, the clown costume has been hanging in the closet hidden away for quite some time.

Alan, from Maesteg, has been in the business for 29 years and couldn’t really imagine doing anything else.

His act sees traditional performances such as Punch and Judy along with classic children’s show favourites.

Alan said: "We try and keep it as traditional as possible. It’s old-school really. Since lockdown I have done two shows since March. People are scared to book things. The parents don’t want to have 25 or 30 kids running around.

"I want to work. I invested a lot of money in personal protective equipment (PPE) and all the equipment.

"I got everything thinking: ‘Right, I’m PPE-proof and will be protected’ but people are just not ringing. My phone is unused."

It’s been a sad time for the entertainment industry (Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

The clown costume has been locked away for some time (Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

Alan said there has been an "unbelievable" difference in demand for entertainment this year and the industry as a whole has suffered – not just children’s entertainers.

It’s been a difficult time with a phone that doesn’t ring and a diary that has empty pages – and this would usually be his busiest time of year.

"Normally Halloween is booked out," he said. "The only show I did have booked was cancelled. For Christmas I have one date in December – and I still don’t know if that will go ahead. Normally by the start of September the month of December is 98% booked. I would do three to four shows in a day."

Alan has had hardly any bookings since March (Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

When it comes to how the lack of entertainment has affected the children Alan said he thinks the little ones are "durable".

He says most of the kids understand you can’t have parties because of the virus but he worries there may be a knock-on effect in terms of the future demands for parties.

He said if children get used to doing things like having tea parties with families there may be a decline in demand for entertainers and traditional parties in the future.

"I think parents will think: ‘We didn’t have one last year, so let’s not have one this year’. It will have a knock-on effect.

"I think the entertainment industry will take two to three years to recover and I don’t think it will recover to what it was pre-Covid."

Even though there is a concern around the future for the industry, it’s clear that the passion for performing still remains.

For Alan his mobility limits the type of work he is able to do and, in all honesty, he doesn’t want to stop raising the spirits of little ones.

Alan hopes to continue working in the industry (Image: Rob Browne/WalesOnline)

Talking about the future he said: "I can’t really do anything else – I have mobility issues now.

"It’s the only thing I can really do – I pull up, sit with the kids for a few hours, and then I’m back in the car and I’m home.

"For me to get up and go to a factory and stand for a long period of time would be hard for me.

"The next thing for me would be retirement but I wouldn’t want that.

"This lockdown has given me time to read books and more things about magic.

"I love entertaining the kids – and the magic."